When you set out to improve conversion rates, where do you focus your attention? Do you obsess over the visitors who leave your website without buying?
Hotjar Founder and CEO David Darmanin made that mistake for years—but when he switched his focus and started looking at the users who did convert, he saw real results.
ℹ️ David Darmanin, Founder & CEO of Hotjar, is an entrepreneur and consultant who has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for businesses large and small over the past 12 years.
He has run hundreds of tests for his clients across 19 languages, 12 currencies, and 13 industries. In one of his most recent projects, he generated $16 million in lifetime value for an e-commerce SaaS. At the time we published this blog post, Hotjar had recently reached €15 million in Annual Recurring Revenue.
What David learned was that he needed to study a special subset of paying customers so he could tailor his website and products to their needs.
“I spent the better half of my career focusing on the 95% who don’t convert, but it’s better to focus on the 5% who do. Get to know them really well, deliver value to them, and really wow them. That’s how you’re going to take that 5% to 10%.”
David Darmanin - CEO at Hotjar
Why study the 5% who buy rather than the 95% who don’t? It all comes down to three different types of users who visit your website (segmented by their level of interest and the likelihood that they’ll convert).
Before founding Hotjar, David worked at Conversion Rate Experts—the world’s leading Conversion Rate Optimization agency. They’ve worked with dozens of industry leaders, from Apple to Amazon, from Google to Dropbox. In fact, they’re the ones who coined the term “Conversion Rate Optimization,” so they know their stuff.
In any case, that’s where David learned to segment his users into separate categories according to their likelihood of buying:
Not all users are CREATED equal...
He breaks website visitors into three groups: Just-Browsing Wanderers, Determined Heroes, and Undecided Explorers.
You know how wanderers by definition move from place to place without ever stopping? Well, the Just-Browsing Wanderers who visit your website will pretty much never stop to convert either. They’re curious about your product, but they’re just browsing and have no intention of buying anytime soon.
A Just-Browsing Wanderer might be a student gathering research, a competitor spying on your website, or a grandma who clicked on your ad because she lost control of the mouse when her arthritis flared up. Just-Browsing Wanderers comprise the vast majority of visitors, and if you ask them why they’re not buying, their answers can lead you astray because they were never going to buy in the first place.
By contrast, Determined Heroes always make it through your sales funnel, which means they’ll buy from you even if their buyer’s journey is filled with struggles and roadblocks. Sure, they’re great customers, but studying them isn’t very helpful because they won’t offer much in the way of constructive criticism.
Undecided Explorers fit your ideal customer profile just like the Heroes, but they aren’t as determined. Some will jump ship due to usability issues or product design flaws. Others will convert, but they’ll remain ambivalent—and their half-hearted mindset makes them the perfect customers to study.
Why? Those who (barely) convert can shed light on common customer objections, and uncovering those objections will help you convince future Explorers to take the plunge and convert.
“The Explorers are the ones we need to serve. They are the undecided prospects. We need to persuade them, and they have a lot to share with us in terms of how we can improve because they have standards and expectations we're not meeting.
David Darmanin - CEO at Hotjar
4 ways to uncover the reasons why people leave your website
Yes, some Explorers won’t make it through your sales funnel, but others will push past their objections to give you their money—and these can offer you valuable feedback.
Your Undecided EXPLORERS can help you uncover qualified objections: the reasons why your prospects leave your website.
They’ll highlight many of the same qualified objections that prevented their non-buying counterparts from converting. And once you address their concerns, you can convert more Explorers. You can also turn some of your existing customers (Explorers and Heroes alike) into promoters, and these fans will provide free word-of-mouth advertising by recommending you to their friends and colleagues.
Addressing qualified objections will turn your customers into promoters, which will, in turn, generate word-of-mouth advertising.
Here are four ways to identify qualified objections...
1. Set up a point-of-conversion survey to hear from the Explorers
Here at Hotjar, we ask them to rate their buying experience on a scale of 1 through 5 (five being the most positive). If they answer 1-3, we ask, “How can we improve the experience?” If they answer 4 or 5, we ask, “What did you love most about the experience?”
Next, we ask both groups the same question: “What nearly stopped you from completing your purchase?” This question reveals qualified objections from those who completed their purchase but could have bounced.
The 3-step sequence we use to measure and improve the customer experience after a customer has converted.
Now, why are we gathering objections from buyers rather than non-buyers?
Obviously, it would be great if we could get feedback from the Explorers who don’t buy… but again, it could be difficult to distinguish the Explorers who don’t convert from the sea of Wanderers who will never convert. To reduce noise in the data, we instead focus on the converted Explorers (who, by definition, are ambivalent about your brand and closely resemble the Explorer defectors).
Conversion Rate Experts recommends asking an additional question: “What was your biggest challenge, frustration, or problem with finding us online?” This will let you know how you can better reach those ideal customers.
“The point-of-conversion is where the customer experience is very fresh. That’s where you get the best data from your buyers.”
David Darmanin - CEO at Hotjar
2. Watch Session Recordings from your Explorers
Once you’ve identified which buyers were unhappy or on the fence about their experience, you can use Hotjar’s Session Recordings tool to view a screencast of their session.
How does that work? If an Explorer complains that they had problems with the payment form, for example, you would make note of their User ID (which you’ll find in the survey results), and you would use that ID to find their Session Recording.
In Hotjar, you can check the User ID of An EXPLORER who answered your survey and look back at their experience via Session Recordings (see below).
You can watch where their mouse moves, where they try to click, and where your instructions may have confused them.
Combining observations of their online behavior with the qualitative feedback they’ve provided will give you a deeper understanding of their experience (and how to improve it).
3. Get feedback from sales and support teams
Sales and support teams are on the front lines, and they have first-hand knowledge of your customers’ fears, concerns, and impediments to purchase or repurchase. You can also get solid feedback by interviewing sales professionals who have sold similar products face-to-face or over the phone.
4. Conduct user tests
Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson, founders of Conversion Rate Experts, are big fans of user testing. In Making Websites Win, their book about doubling conversion rates, the authors write: “User tests tend to be the most fruitful technique. Ask a friend or anyone you can get your hands on—to participate. Once your website is refined enough, aim to user-test it on people from your target demographic and psychography.”
You’ve identified the objections… now what?
Once you’ve uncovered those qualified objections from the Explorers, make sure your website addresses their most significant concerns, and ensure that your product solves their problems. Blanks and Jesson argue that you have to address each objection with a counter-objection.
In other words, your approach must be tailored for every objection. For example, if your customers haven’t fully grasped the benefits of your product, then offering them a money back guarantee won’t address that problem. The only solution to that objection is to make the product’s benefits perfectly clear on your website and in your advertising.
Blanks and Jesson write, “If the visitors think the product is too expensive, then justify the price. If they don’t trust the company, then show evidence that the company is trustworthy. If visitors are going to think about it, then provide reasons to act promptly.”
“For each objection, you need to display a clear counter-objection.”
Dr. Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson - Founders of Conversion Rate Experts
Every element of your website and every line of copy should be carefully designed to move prospects through your sales funnel. Addressing their concerns before they disappear is an integral part of achieving that goal, and you can only get there by understanding your Explorers.
Tell us about your own experiences in the comments. Where have you focused in the past… on the Explorers or the Wanderers? What were the results? Let us know in the comments.
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